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old chimney coverup problem

I'm currently remodeling my kitchen and have run into a problem with the old chimney. The house was build around 1890 and most of the walls are plaster with the wood slats underneath. The walls in the kitchen are split a little over halfway up with chair railing & the top half actually has a thin layer of sheetrock that has been attached to the old plaster walls, they are in good condition all around except for cracks around the doorways. The bottom half of the walls are the parts i started replacing as there were several spots that had come loose and had bad cracking.

On the bottom half i removed all the plaster back to the wooden slats and have had no real problems until i got to the far wall. There was an old wood burning stove in the kitchen at one point and time, when removed it looks like they just boxed around it (about 2 inches off of the brick) with some thin wafer like board and painted it. The hole up top was covered with some old kind of solid grate with clamps. I'm now wondering if i should just leave it be and patch up the holes with something similar or just tear it out and replace with sheetrock floor to ceiling in that area. Only problem i can see with that is there will be a gap in-between the hardwood floors and the new dry wall if i run it against the old brick. So i was thinking the proper way would be to attach some wood to the chimney to bring it out to where it was, or is there an easier way to fix this spot?

I'm also unsure of the best/safest way to seal the old cover up. There are a few pics of that so you can get a good idea of what i'm dealing with, there is also some nasty stuff in there that falls out when i remove the cover. I'm pretty good with tools and have done a little bit of everything so i shouldn't have any problem handling things, just not sure on the right way to go about it. I'm doing this whole thing solo & on a limited budget so any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Re: old chimney coverup problem

Hardwood floor patching is not a great deal. You may be able to find matching pieces in a closet or some other place inconspicuous.

From the pictures it looks like the chimney is full of debris which suggests that the chimney is deteriorating. I would say you have a couple of choices. You could start at the top and tear the chimney out. You would gain some floor space.

You could remove the metal thimble cover and seal the hole with pieces of brick and mortar and re-plaster the chimney. Chances are though you will have a moisture problem with the chimney.

Just from what I do see , I would suggest a chimney tear down.

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